RNF Racing’s Andrea Dovizioso conceded that riding Yamaha’s M1 still does not feel “instinctive” to him, though he was happy to feel more power with a newer-spec machine.
Dovizioso competed in the final five races of 2021 with the Petronas SRT squad as replacement to the factory Yamaha-bound Franco Morbidelli, the Italian having signed a deal with the team until the end of 2022 following its rebranding to RNF Racing after the operation was purchased by SRT team boss Razlan Razali.
The ex-Ducati pilot struggled to make much progress up the field across his five-event 2021 campaign, Dovizioso lumbered with an aging 2019-spec M1 that allowed him to score only 12 points in the end-a best result of 12th coming in the season finale at Valencia.
Having signed a deal with Yamaha directly to become a factory rider, Dovizioso will therefore receive a full-fat 2022 machine next season, a bike he was first able to sample across the two-day post-season test at Jerez at the end of last week.
Despite admitting he still doesn’t feel fully at home behind the controls of the M1 because “It’s so different to what I’ve had for the last eight years”, Dovizioso revealed that the improved brakes on the ’22 machine-as well as extra power-gave him cause for optimism ahead of pre-season testing after Christmas.
“It’s been two difficult days with the wind, but overall the test was not bad,” said Dovizioso.
“I was able to ride a bit better in the afternoon but it’s still not instinctive for me to ride the bike, the new one is better on the brakes and has a bit more power, but the DNA is the same so sometimes I have to stop to check the data and start again because it’s so different to what I’ve had for the last eight years.
“Overall though I have a good feeling, obviously there is margin because the chassis of the bike is so good but I’m still not exiting the corner in a perfect way so I have to keep working but I’m happy to head to Malaysia and see how the bike is next year.
“I only had one bike (at test), the 2022 but not the same as the factory (riders) because they were trying different things so still the direction is not clear, after the test Yamaha will make some decisions but overall there are not big details being spoken about.
“For the moment I am still working to adapt to the style of the bike and it was definitely good to feel more power, so for me the test was perfect.
“The main improvement (compared to 2019 M1) is the braking, I can brake harder which is good, especially for my style as I could feel that straight away, as well as a bit more power.”
Rookie Binder feels “like my arms have stretched out longer”
Dovizioso’s new team-mate Darryn Binder-who becomes the first rider to jump directly from Moto3 to the premier class since Jack Miller in 2014-also enjoyed his first laps aboard a MotoGP prototype at Jerez.
Binder-younger brother of KTM MotoGP race-winner Brad- joked having completed his first two days testing that his arms felt like they had “stretched out longer” due to the added strength needed to wrestle a premier class challenger.
“I feel like my arms have stretched out longer after two days in this beast but it’s been a great two days, today started off really well and I was just getting better and better working my way up and unfortunately just before lunch I had a nice crash on the out-lap which slowed my progress,” said Binder.
“I was happy to get back out towards the end and do a couple more laps, and at least heading into the winter break I know exactly what I’m in for and overall it’s been an amazing couple days getting to know the team.”